A yoga weekend: organising my first yoga retreat

At some point during another “Is this it?” crisis (count at least one for every normal job I ever had), I had the idea to start organising yoga retreats. As a trained yoga teacher and having lots of experience organising events, holidays and team buildings, this should be easy, right? I wanted to start with a yoga weekend retreat close to home in the Belgian Ardennes. We Belgians may not have mountains but the hills are good enough and there are green things called trees and open space. Things Antwerp isn’t exactly known for.

My first ever yoga weekend!

Location

I found 6 friends willing to join me for a try-out. I had already scouted a location in January, set the date to September (yes, a 9 month incubation time) and off we went!The house was an old typical Ardennes style farm, beautifully restored and with a lovely garden. The old stables were perfect as yoga shala!

yoga weekend Ardennes farm entranceyoga weekend Ardennes house frontyoga weekend Ardennes farm courtyardvanessa window

yoga weekend flowersyoga weekend Ardennes house garden

Food

I enlisted the help of a fellow foodie friend (I like alliterations) to help with cooking, and she magically made so many goodies appear! Lots of fruits, veggies, delicious salads, yummy energy balls and healthy curries. We ended up having a vegan weekend (it wasn’t entirely planned that way) but we did have coffee and chocolate…

yoga weekend vegan avocado chocolate mousseFind the avocado in this vegan chocolate mousse… I could have this for breakfast lunch dinner and snack! :)

yoga weekend Fruits for breakfastyoga weekend al fresco dining
yoga weekend meeting organising committee

Here the organising committee are “in a meeting”.

Hiking

We had an Indian summer weekend; we were very very lucky with the weather so we went for a hike in the woods. The autumn was already in the air, the leaves falling and we spotted a deer in a meadow, enjoying the sun…

yoga weekend hiking in the woods
yoga weekend hiking group fotoyoga weekend looking for puddles to jump in

Looking for some puddles to jump into.

yoga weekend hiking fieldsyoga weekend dear deer

Yoga

As it was supposed to be a yoga weekend we also practised during 4 yoga classes. We had a short evening session on the grass in the sun, and practised some inversions. Being upside down gives you an entirely different perspective on things. And it’s as good as a facelift! When was the last time you did a headstand? :)

yoga weekend post yoga blissThe yoginis blissed out after a yoga class in the stables.

Massage

I taught my students-for-the-weekend Ayurvedic walking massage as I learnt it at Shri Kali Ashram in India. This massage is very easy to learn even though you “walk” on the receiver’s body. Scary at first, but after you’ve received a massage yourself you know it’s amazing and it doesn’t hurt. It’s so relaxing, you can go deep into the muscle tissue and it helps correct the alignment of your body. The stables were perfect for balancing ourselves :)

yoga weekend ayurvedic walking massage

yoga weekend ayurvedic walking massage close-up

All in all it was a fantastic experience. I was totally exhausted, but very happy with how my first yoga weekend retreat went. And I think my students were too…

yoga weekend relax in the gardenyoga weekend group foto

Picture credits: Vanessa, Ellen and Irina.
Thanks to Eva for the lovely food!!
Thanks to Annelies, Ellen, Eva, Marie, Mieke en Vanessa for taking a chance on me! Keep practising :)

Related: Teaching at a weekend yoga retreat to read about the yoga weekend of a friend of mine that I taught at (but didn’t organise myself)

Related: Diary of a silent meditation retreat to read about my experience during a 10 day silent meditation retreat

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